Have you noticed there is always one child in the family who has money? But you can’t figure out where it’s coming from? My 13-year-old is just such a son, and a few weeks ago I finally discovered the source. He has been charging his siblings to play on his ipod—to the tune of $4.50 a day—and they were paying it! Though my initial emotions ranged from shock to incredulity to laughing, I had to say, he was a pretty smart Tom Sawyer kid. Of course, we immediately put a cap on said ipod earnings (a $1 a day) and helped him understand that siblings are not stockholders, they’re your best pals —you don’t want to milk the love cow.
But it got me thinking about money principles and practices, and what our children are learning now for their future. Perhaps now is a good time to talk to your children about their money practices, even as young as five. Help them understand choices—giving up something now for something later (up until they are 14 our children can buy once a month—other than that, they can save and anticipateJ) That wanting isn’t the same as having (our first question is, “How can you earn money for that item?”). And that some needs to go to safety (each month when we do tithing some automatically goes into savings, though they get a say in how much) and some for fun (all my older children keep at least five to ten dollars in their wallets to preserve against being stuck somewhere without cash).
Reinforce the concept that all money matters—loose change lying around shows a lack of stewardship. We just did a Money Hunt last week—search the house for loose change—and found $35! Typically we’ll do something to serve with part of it and something fun as a family, because that’s an investment in us (and following the First Presidency in one of the four pillars of our family life—family scriptures, family prayer, Family Home Evening, and family fun!)
This week consider one money practice that you’ve been thinking of notching up this fall. Now is a great time to start something new, or have an interactive Family Home Evening on it. Perhaps talk about your family budget and ask them what they think is spent on utilities, mortgage, water, gas, food, recreational items, etc., then compare it to the reality. It’s eye-opening—for them and for you.
No need to make it a production, give lengthy lectures, or involved pie charts (unless your child wants to help you with itJ Simply consider one principle and practice that can bless your family’s life this fall and move forward on it. Feel free to email me with any ideas or experiences you’d like to share!